So it appears Josh Hamilton will get one more shot with the Texas Rangers.
Hamilton recently met with team doctors and was medically cleared, which means the 35-year old outfielder will likely sign a minor league deal with the Rangers that includes an invite to spring training.
The 2010 American League MVP never saw the field for the Rangers last season, and only had two at-bats for Double-A Frisco in April before having season-ending knee surgery. It was his third surgery on his left knee in 10 months.
It’s just another interesting twist to Hamilton’s story in Texas. He was a vital part of the 2010 and 2011 World Series teams, then left Arlington to join the Los Angeles Angels and instantly became a villain in the eyes of Rangers fans. All was forgiven when Hamilton returned to the Rangers via trade in 2015, but Texas only saw a glimpse of the player he once was due to injuries.
Hamilton is in the final year of the deal he signed with the Angels in 2012, which will pay him $28.4 million in 2017. The Rangers are on the hook for about $2 million while the Angels pick up the rest of the tab.
But here’s where the fun begins should Hamilton make the big league roster.
Let’s say Hamilton is good to go and shows signs of his old self. Where do you put him? The outfield already has Nomar Mazara, Carlos Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo penciled in. Choo is also an option at DH since he’s dealt with injury issues himself in the past. So there’s the possibility of having Hamilton in left, Gomez in center and Mazara in right. Of course, all this depends on whether Hamilton is able to hold up playing outfield on a regular basis, which is never a given for anyone who’s had constant knee issues.
What about moving Hamilton to first base? It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, especially with 2016 Gold Glove winner Mitch Moreland now in Boston. And it would definitely help a player such as Hamilton physically. However, things get a little tricky now that the Rangers also appear interested in possibly reuniting once again with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli.
Another factor in the first base dilemma is Joey Gallo, a highly-talented, yet inconsistent prospect who spent time in Triple-A Round Rock last season working at that position. At some point the organization may need to take a closer look at giving him a chance to play on a daily basis, if anything than to possibly increase trade value should they decide to move a different direction. Plus, both Napoli and Gallo can also fill in at DH just like Choo.
There are plenty of options and just as many question marks concerning the Rangers and Hamilton. Of course, all this depends on whether Hamilton can return to the form that once made him one of the most feared hitters in the game.